Keith Johnson
July 29, 2010


I see a whole army of my countrymen, here, in defiance of tyranny. What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?”

William Wallace, from the motion picture “Braveheart”

Talk like that could get you branded a right-wing extremist these days.

We are now taught that feelings of hatred and anger are things that should be criminalized, and if you raise your voice anywhere outside of a sports stadium, you could very well be forced to take some anger management classes.  Do it within earshot of a police officer and you just might get yourself a beat down, a tasering— or even worse—you just might get shot.

I wonder how things would have worked out for the people of Scotland, had they used their “indoor voice” when negotiating with their English oppressors, some 700 odd years ago. “Calm down,” “chill out,” “walk it off” and  “take it easy” are quotes you don’t often associate with that era.

Perhaps the English would have faced far less resistance had they provided the Scots with an alternative forum to vent their frustrations.  Football, baseball, basketball, NASCAR and monster truck pulls would have been perfect venues to serve as distractions from such trivial everyday problems like rape, pillage and murder by government.

Of course, it’s doubtful that the Scots would have fallen for that.  They weren’t the same men we are today.  They didn’t need Patriot radio hosts or an alternative news source on the Internet to make them aware that they were living in an evil, totalitarian society.  Slaves knew they were slaves, serfs knew they were serfs and the fight for liberty was a painstaking, never ending struggle.

A lot has changed since then.  Today, some men would sooner trade their freedom than trade their local football team’s tight end to the New England Patriots. Long before that first rubber ball went through a netted hoop, men took the field to do more than just score points, and the only spectators were the ones watching their own blood gush out of an open wound.

The emasculation of the modern male is the result of decades of social engineering designed to control and manipulate human instincts and emotions away from protecting oneself and tribe and redirecting those feelings towards trivial matters of relative insignificance.

Two excellent films should be viewed back to back to fully appreciate the end result of man’s centuries old metamorphosis.

Mel Gibson’s Braveheart offers a glimpse of what men were before television, movies and the endless list of mind numbing, virtual pleasures that reward the slothful for being fat, dumb and lazy.  Though some degree of dramatic license is employed in any historically based work of fiction, it nonetheless captures the passion and spirit of the men described in authentic historical texts on that era.

Big Fan is an independent film that is entirely a work of fiction.  But there’s nothing fictitious in actor Patton Oswalt’s spot-on portrayal of a sports obsessed, hero worshipping, American loser whose ill placed passions make everyone around him miserable and ultimately puts his own life in great peril.

Passions and priorities are the themes these two films share.  But for each of the two central characters, those passions and priorities are vastly different.

For Braveheart’s William Wallace, leading his people to freedom from English tyranny was his priority, and this is where he placed his passion.

In the latter part of the 13th century, the ‘Wars for Independence’ against English rule was at a fever pitch.  Earlier skirmishes by Scottish rebels—against occupying English forces—resulted in the capture of English controlled castles at Elgin, Banff, Loch Ness and Inverness.  These campaigns effectively segregated southern Scotland from English control.

But the English had their own victories.  Defeating the Scots at the “Battle of Dunbar” gave the elderly English military commander, John de Warenne, a false sense of confidence when he went to face them at Stirling Bridge.

Wallace led the Scottish forces.  By this time, he was already a legend.  Wallace was a Scottish landowner—who became a reluctant leader in the resistance—following a string of misfortunes instigated by the English police state.  Years earlier, while fishing at Irvine Water, English soldiers demanded he relinquish his entire catch over to them.  Wallace refused and a struggle ensued, resulting in the deaths of the soldiers and the beginning of his career as an outlaw.

Five years later, Wallace found himself surrounded by English soldiers in the middle of Lanark Town.  Things soon erupted into violence and Wallace and his men made their escape through his wife Marion Braidfute’s house.  The English Sheriff, William Heselrig, gave chase.  While attempting to gain access into the house, Wallace managed to slip away.  When Heselrig finally entered the house, he encountered Braidfute, whom he killed immediately. When Wallace learned of this, he returned later that night to exact revenge.   He killed Heselrig and cut is body into several pieces.

From that point on, Wallace became a major figure in the rebellion in the southern part of Scotland.  But his meteoric rise within the ranks came after Scottish nobles, inspired by the uprisings, took up arms against a strong English force at Irvine.  Their efforts, though noble, were not sufficient and led to an easy defeat.  Wallace had not taken part in this battle, and the shortcomings of the Scottish nobles only made Wallace’s victories seem that much more spectacular.

September 11th, 1297 was the day that Wallace rallied his men to face English forces at Stirling Bridge.  In the film Braveheart, this battle is depicted in a scene where Wallace delivers his famous “Freedom Speech.”

“I am William Wallace.

And I see a whole army of my countrymen, here in defiance of tyranny!

You have come to fight as free men. And free man you are!

What will you do without freedom? Will you fight?

Fight and you may die.

Run and you will live—at least awhile.

And dying in your bed many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance, to come back here as young men and tell our enemies that they may take our lives but they will never take our freedom!”

I suggest you watch the following clip of that famous scene.


The corrupt leaders who have taken control of our government are inching us closer each day towards a third world war.  They have wrecked our economy and intend on sinking our nation into despotism.  Where is our William Wallace?  Are there men willing to risk life and limb like the brave Scottish soldiers who soundly defeated the English at Stirling Bridge?  Or are there too few of those kinds of men and too many of the kind depicted in the trailer of this insightful film, Big Fan.

I suggest you watch that trailer now.


spoiler alert!

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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Patton Oswalt turns out an excellent performance as Paul Aufiero, a parking garage attendant who lives with his mother in Staen Island, New York.  Paul is a rabid football fan who is consumed with everything relating to the New York Giants.  He religiously follows each game and watches them on a television set in the parking lot of the stadium.  He also is a frequent caller to the Sports Dog radio show.  Paul spends hours writing up discertations that he reads on air.  He rants about other teams and talks up his own as well as engaging in a rivalry with a Philadelphia Eagles fanatic.

Paul’s family often scold him for doing nothing with his life.  Paul has no desire to start a family of his own or find a career.  Football is his entire life and everything he identifies himself with.

One day, Paul just happens to stumble upon Giants star player Quantrell Bishop and his entourage in Staten Island.  He follows him around town and finally introduces himself to the player at a strip club in Manhattan.  Once Bishop learns that he has been followed, he becomes enraged to the point of beating him to a pulp.

Paul lands in the hospital and Bishop is suspended from playing indefinitely.  Though pressured by his family to file a lawsuit for his injuries and hounded by the police to file charges against Bishop, Paul refuses because to do so would adversely affect the Giant’s performance on the field.

Throughout the film, Paul demonstrates where his passions and priorities lie.  He doesn’t care that the money a settlement might bring could improve his standard of living.  He doesn’t care about the burden he places on his mother with his late night telephone calls and refusing to move out on his own.  Paul doesn’t even care about justice or how despised he is by the millionaire players whom he showers with admiration.

The only person who Paul does have a grudge against is his rival talk show caller from Philadelphia.  What he does to get even with this guy is something I’ll let you find out for yourself.

This is definitely a must see film that says a lot about our society.  Our men worship other men.  This I’ll never understand.  Rabid sports fans put their support and adoration into players who couldn’t care less about the city their teams represent.  They have even less respect for the fans who pay their multi-million dollar salaries.  The sports culture is a microcosm of our larger culture.  We put our support behind politicians who are not there to serve us.  They, like the athletes, are for sale to the highest bidder.  On top of that, we pay them outrageous salaries so they can send our sons and daughters to die in needless wars and find new ways to make fine and tax us into poverty.

But wars make for some interesting television, and that is why this country is failing…one beer at a time

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